Lotta movement from the president on this subject over the past two days, although given the fickleness of his caucus, he didn’t have much choice. On Monday he and McConnell were still pushing repeal and replace via the BCRA. Then Mike Lee and Jerry Moran pulled the plug. So the White House shifted to clean repeal:
Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2017
That lasted about six hours, until Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Shelley Moore Capito pulled the plug on that. So Trump moved on to “let ObamaCare fail”:
Remarks from Trump moments ago: "Let Obamacare fail. It'll be a lot easier." "We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it." pic.twitter.com/tq2l0sUdWW
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 18, 2017
But that’s a risky proposition since it’s unclear which side voters will blame if Congress stands by while the exchanges deteriorate. Usually when there’s an avoidable national crisis, the party in charge of the government bears the brunt of public upset. So now we’re back to repeal and replace:
I will be having lunch at the White House today with Republican Senators concerning healthcare. They MUST keep their promise to America!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2017
He … means “we,” not “they,” right?
Trump was working the phones this morning trying to revive the BCRA by pulling a few no votes back into the fold. Reportedly he phoned longtime critic Mike Lee and asked him what it would take to flip him; Lee told Trump he wants Ted Cruz’s “Consumer Freedom Amendment” restored to its original plan, without the requirement that the healthy and sick be included in a single risk pool. Supposedly Trump was “receptive.” That resembles the leadership’s strategy after the House bill failed initially in March — woo the conservatives by making concessions to them, knowing that they’re more likely to stand on principle in opposition otherwise, and then assume that the moderates will cave and vote yes rather than face the wrath of the Republican base. I’m mighty curious to see if that holds in the Senate. Susan Collins has been fairly stalwart in her opposition to the bill and she’s got plenty of backing potentially from Murkowski, Capito, Heller, Portman, Flake, McCain, et al. Will the moderates find strength in numbers if Lee and Moran flip to yes or are they going to cave again? It was smart of conservative media to lash them yesterday after clean repeal failed; the beating they took may scare them into acquiescence in round two.
Here’s Trump at today’s lunch with Senate Republicans, somehow landing on “inaction is not an option” 24 hours after he advocated letting ObamaCare fail. Note him “joking” with Dean Heller that he might not be a senator in 2019 if this doesn’t get done. And note Heller’s reaction. There’s history there.